Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Ben and Samantha stand by a screen which says Accessible Communications 2023Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is marked every year on the third Thursday in May to promote the importance of accessible digital content.

It’s a key date on the VisAbility calendar. Our Accessible Information Services team takes an active role in supporting organisations and businesses to become more inclusive. Learn more about how you can make documents more accessible with our accessibility guidelines

In recent years, we’ve been helping the City of Cockburn  to reach this objective. It’s a step in the right direction to create an inclusive digital environment.

City of Cockburn’s commitment to accessibility

In 2021, the City of Cockburn received the accolade of the Government Website of the Year as part of the Australian Access Awards. With a population of 120,000 people, it’s one of the largest local government authorities in WA.

It’s an achievement that reflects the city’s commitment to accessibility. It’s an award that makes Communications and Marketing Manager Samantha Seymour-Eyles proud.

“We run training sessions for community groups advising them about accessible content. We are fulfilling our duty and creating a ripple effect of inclusivity by passing on knowledge and skills.”

Statistics highlight the need for this requirement.

  • 20% of people within the City of Cockburn have a disability
  • 3% of the City of Cockburn population have low vision
  • 16% of the City of Cockburn population are hard of hearing
  • 44% of Australians have a low literacy level
  • Within the city there’s a large CALD community – people Culturally And Linguistically Diverse where English may not be their first language.

“It means people can use our content independently and gather their own information. Whether that’s checking bin collection days, finding out rates information, or just what’s happening within the community,” explains Samantha.

“We want to provide alternative formats so people can have the same information as everyone else. We aim to set the benchmark high, so creating accessible websites and documents becomes standard practice.”

Ben and Samantha sit at a desk with a booklet open in front of themMeeting customer needs

The City of Cockburn has achieved such a high level of online and digital accessibility thanks to VisAbility’s Senior Digital Production Coordinator Vithya Vijayakumare and her team from Accessible Information Services. We have provided the following:

  • Undertaking training and workshops with the City of Cockburn around website and content accessibility
  • Creating inclusive accessible document templates. 
  • Training people about accessible Word documents and PDFs

As Vithya explains, creating accessible content makes sound business sense.

“The City of Cockburn’s efforts towards digital accessibility is highly commendable because it’s ensuring everyone has equal access to information.”

Ben and Samantha stand by a sign at the entrance to City of Cockburn officesCity of Cockburn Disability Access and Inclusion Officer Ben Rowe says there’s been lots of positive feedback about their content creation the website and the comms provided.

“We take a proactive approach. Before anything is uploaded to the web by anyone within our organisation, whether the content itself – Word documents or PDFs, it’s checked for accessibility. We also have a Reference Group comprising people with a disability or service providers such as Anglicare and WANSLEA.  This approach ensures our accessibility efforts are guided by the needs of people with disabilities.”

Accessible communication provided by the City of Cockburn includes:

  • Ensuring PDFS are accessible to screenreaders
  • Closed captioning to support people who are hard of hearing
  • Using sign language (Auslan) at community/media events
  • Using Easy English language
  • Using a larger font size
  • Greater colour contrast
  • Avoid strobing, flickering or flashing lights
  • Accessible maps (compliant with screen readers)
  • Providing Read Speaker on website pages (a program that turns website text into speech.)

Accessibility statistics 

In 2020 WebAIM analysed one million home pages for accessibility issues. Unfortunately, 83% of these pages had low contrast text. In addition, 66% had missing image alt text (text which describes what the image contains). These are outlined on the Global Accessibility Awareness Day website (opens in new window).

Accessibility issues

So what are the problems for people with a disability?

1. People who are blind need alternative text descriptions to understand images. They use a keyboard rather than a mouse to interact with content.

2. Videos require description and closed captions, so people can understand what’s happening.

3. People who have low vision or colour blindness have difficulties reading documents when text colour in the foreground does not contrast enough with the background colour.

4. People with hearing impairment require a closed captioning and transcript file for movies and films and audio content, so they can understand what’s happening.

5. Content that is easy to navigate and uses plain language is preferable.

6. People with mobility issues may need adaptive equipment computer hardware to navigate devices which may work off eye control.

To ensure you have good colour contrast for your content and website, use the Paciello Colour Contrast Analyser (link opens in new window).

This tool confirms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 and 2.2 standards. In addition, it indicates a pass or fail of the choices of colours used.  

Global Accessibility Awareness Day gives us all an opportunity to think about the one billion people worldwide who have a disability and face challenges with digital content.

Watch this video to learn how to make online meetings more accessible.


Accessible format support 

We can convert content and materials in Audio, Braille, large print, tactile images, Easy English and e-text. This includes:

  • Document accessibility – review and convert
  • Social media accessibility
  • Video and audio accessibility
  • Website accessibility health checks
  • Braille and audio production
  • Easy English conversions
  • Library services

Accessibility training and workshops

We offer a number of courses for businesses to help create fully inclusive documentation. View our Training and Workshops page for more information. Courses include: 

Access for All

Learn how to make documents more accessible (Four hour course)

How to write Easy English

Learn how to write and create documents in Easy English (Four hour course)

How to create accessible Word documents

Learn to create accessible Word documents (Four hour course). 

How to make social media accessible

Learn how to make social media accessible (Four hour course).

Mailchimp accessibility made easy

Learn how use Mailchimp accessibility features (Four hour course).

How to make a PDF accessible in Adobe Acrobat DC Pro

Learn how to make PDFs accessible in Adobe Acrobat DC Pro (Six hour course).

How to make a PDF accessible in Adobe InDesign

Learn how to make a PDF accessible in Adobe InDesign (Six hour course). 

How to make accessible EPUB documents in MS Word

Learn how to make accessible EPUB documents (Four hour course).

Make accessible reflowable EPUBs in Adobe InDesign

Learn how to make accessible reflowable EPUB documents (Six hour course). 

Apply for training workshops

If you are interested in any of our workshops or more specific training, please complete the form below and one of our team will contact you shortly.

Training Request Form B (Sept 2023)

Please note fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required

Do you require training as:*
If you are an individual living with vision impairment, or a parent or carer of someone with low vision, please visit our Group Programs page for more information about the practical training we can offer such as Braille Classes, iDevice Clinic, Cooking Skills and more.

Alternatively, please complete our short form to enquire about vision support services and one of our friendly team will contact you to discuss how we can support you to live independently now and into the future.

Please tell us what training you are interested in.
Software/technology training
Practical training (Practical training courses can only be offered in WA and Tasmania)
Where would you prefer the training to be held?*
Address line 1
Address line 2
Suburb / Town
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